The Imaginary Heroine

searching for the plot

My Life in Fiction March 29, 2010

“We see the future, we see something waiting for us even when we don’t feel it inside sometimes.”
– Psychosister23, “The Great Debate” by Rachel Caine from A New Dawn edited by Ellen Hopkins.

I know what you’re thinking. Aren’t you…over this whole A New Dawn book review thing yet?! Well, yes, I am. This isn’t really a book review. Just something I was reminded of when I read this bit from Rachel Caine’s essay. It was part of her discussion about Twilight’s positive lessons for young women. Namely, that in encourages them to think about what their adult life could and should be like. Even though they feel like misfits, they can become the heroine in their own story.

This definitely struck a chord with me. I read. A lot. I also watch a lot of movies and TV. I love stories. They give me hope that there is meaning in a really confusing, chaotic world.

This is the origin of this blog. My life has started to feel kind of pointless. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know how I’m going to get there. I go to work, I come home, I do dishes, I go to bed – what happened to the great life story I was supposed to be the star of? I’m not sure. Maybe that happens later. Maybe this is the great adventure I’m supposed to be having. I’m just too close to see it. Maybe my “post-adolescent idealistic phase” is crashing and burning. In any case, I need a project. I need to feel like there is a point to life, the universe, and everything.

It’s a whole lot easier for me to do that when I’m reading and writing and trying to tease out pearls of meaning from between the lines.

I want to make myself clear. I don’t expect to become a heroine in a fantastical quest against evil. I am fully cognizant of the fact that life is not like a novel or movie. This doesn’t keep me from using narratives to explain the mysteries of life. In fact, the reason we read books and watch TV shows and see movies is because well all do this to some extent. This may be why people my age often go through this kind of disillusionment phase (you know it kills me to admit I’m going through a phase, but I think it’s a pretty well documented fact if it’s being discussed by fifteen year-olds in Clueless).

We’re bombarded with all kinds of stories and meanings in the media we consume. To take a particularly dramatic example, in Brave Heart Young Murron gives Young William Wallace a thistle at his father’s funeral. Years later, when William proposes to Murron, he reveals that he saved the same thistle for years. Seeing the thistle, Murron knows that his affection is sincere and long-standing. She consents to marry him.

In real life, this kind of thing doesn’t happen. Stuff today is pretty disposable. Clothes are mass manufactured for no one in particular and meant to be discarded after a season. Ipods are made to survive about two years, since by that time the next generation will be available. We spend $3.50 on a cardboard cup filled with coffee, neither of which will last beyond an hour or so.

Because the tangible world is so disturbingly fluid – our setting and the objects around us so impermanent – it’s easy to start believing that we live disposable lives in a disposable culture. This may be why we are so charmed with the thistle in Brave Heart, tuppence in Mary Poppins, and Harry Potter’s scar. They’re artifacts that prove the existence of meaning.

How do we know William loves Murron? He kept her thistle. We can see his love right in his hand. The thistle, tuppence, and scar are metaphors for an abstract meaning. The thistle device is used by writers to draw the audience’s attention to central points of meaning in the narrative. They’re shortcuts on the desktop of the mind.

I think maybe the tangibility of these objects sometimes gets in the way  of their significance. The object is not the point – the meaning is the point. But instead of focusing on the meaning of the metaphor, we lock onto the physical presence of the object and become obsessed with finding tangible symbols in our own lives. Why not? That’s how several forms of media have taught us to process meaning.

What I’m endeavoring to teach myself is that even without these tangible artifacts I can still find abstract meaning in my life.

 

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Other March 25, 2010

A couple of days ago, I was perusing my usual morning sites when I came across a post on Jezebel.com written in response to this piece in the Wall Street Journal. The topic? Friendship breakups.

While the WSJ article discusses the painful fallout of a friendship gone bad, it still assumes that you’re going to need to jettison some friends at some point in your life and gives hints as to how to get it done. I agree with Anna N. from Jezebel in thinking that these steps may be necessary for a friend who is stealing your money for heroin or is some kind of a toxic bully,  but the best option for a friendship in a dry spell is probably time and space. Instead of permanently casting off friendships, we should dial them down and wait for circumstances to change. In a few weeks, months, even years, you and your friend may be right back on the same page and you’ll be so very happy you didn’t have that dramatic split. Even if you die without ever getting back together, it’ll save unnecessary time, drama, and tears on both ends.

However this section gave me pause:

“Some friendships can actually be bad for us — if a friend is manipulative, untrustworthy, or intentionally hurtful, self-preservation pretty much demands a split. But what of the pal who’s simply annoying, who has objectionable political views (one of Bernstein’s examples), or with whom we just don’t have as much in common as we used to? This friend might be occasionally fun but often grating, or might make us angry and happy in equal measure. What to do?” – Anna N., “The Friendship Breakup: When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em,” Jezebel [emphasis added]

The political examples Bernstein gives are “Rob Wilson, 53, a writer in Atlanta, saw a 12-year friendship abruptly end after he mentioned he was voting for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election” on the dump-ee end and for the dump-ers she has the suggestion “Become a Facebook pest. I have a gay friend who has had much success getting rid of bigoted high school friends by making his status updates as flamboyant and politically charged as possible.”

The dump-er example makes sense in one way and not at all in another. If acquaintances have shown themselves to be bigots or hateful towards you, then cut ties ASAP. But the cyber pest suggestion seems childish, passive aggressive, and counter-productive. If you really want to get rid of someone just do it. Hide them from your feed. Or block them. It’s instantly effective, since you don’t have to wait for them to act. You wont see them and they wont see you. The end.

Trying to annoy the crap out of someone in hopes that they cut you off on their own is not attractive, effective, or constructive. You will NOT get the satisfaction of seeing them break down sobbing and saying you were right all along, like a bully in some afternoon teen special. They’re more likely to make additional inane and hurtful comments or just ignore you, giving you no real satisfaction. Don’t let someone you dislike turn you into a nasty person and ruin any more moments of your life.

The dump-ee example, a man voting for a candidate his friend disliked and its equation with “objectionable political views” as grounds for breakups (Bernstein) or distancing (Anna N.) upsets me on a visceral level for a number of reasons.

Neither my friends, 7abibi, my family, or any of my acquaintances ascribe to the same political views as I do. The few times I have sought out people who do, I haven’t been successful in uncovering anyone I really connected with. If everyone kept to their own kind, I would have no one at all.

My own experience with politics and relationships has been ugly. It started out ugly in high school, in the amazingly charged climate after 9/11, and has stayed ugly, right through college to the present ever-escalating  political nightmare. It was a hard lesson, but I learned that I would seldom, if ever, have the luxury of being in a situation where anyone agreed with me or backed me up in a political discussion…or argument.

I came to expect being the one at the bottom of a dog pile of derision. Sometimes the dog pile was full of people I didn’t know. Other times it was composed of people I loved, trusted, and respected. No matter who it is, it hurts. Every time. I’m still trying to figure out how to let it go and move on. Because this dog pile wont be the last or the worst or the most important. Sometimes I play dead and say nothing. Either because I just can’t take it that day or this fight doesn’t matter or this dog pile might prove fatal for a friendship, job, or my personal well-being.

You’re thinking “fatal? Dramatic much?” Allow me to point you to this section of the comments on Jezebel. Where a few people chimed in that politics is definitely grounds for dismissal. Says one commenter, “I’m not friends with people who don’t share my general political views. I just don’t do it. Does this make me judgey and intolerant? Perhaps. Does it make my life better? Yes.” Another says “I don’t have any friends who aren’t on the same page as me either. It’s a total deal breaker.” Another woman says she does maintain friendly acquaintances who disagree with her, but follows it up by saying that she’s currently distancing herself from someone too different.

You’ll see me in there doing a terrible job of making a point, because I broke my cardinal rule of commenting: don’t comment while you’re emotional. I also broke my cardinal rule of speaking up: don’t speak up when there is no benefit. I lashed out for no reason. I feel bullied, hated, misunderstood, and alone. And it’s my own damn fault. I made myself feel bad through the medium of someone with no reason to give a shit about me and who also claims intolerance in the name of a cause as a virtue.

I need to just drop it.

But I can’t.

I can’t not be emotional on this issue. Let me boil down these comments:

I do not like people who are not like me.

Ugly, isn’t it, sitting out there all bald like that? At least one of the commenters owned it for what it was: intolerance. I would consider Jezebel and its commenters to be a generally progressive lot. But this is definitely NOT a progressive idea. At all. This is regressive and hateful.

Since when is it acceptable to say and act in accordance with this sort of philosophy? It is unacceptable to say I don’t like black people or gays or Muslims or people from Arkansas. Why is it okay to say the same about someone whose political beliefs aren’t in lock step with yours?

A wise friend* explained the thinking to me thusly:

“It’s allowed when it’s an ideological issue. People view political beliefs as changeable. It’s not like race, or to some degree religion, where you’re born one thing and you stay one thing. Your politics can change and so if you disagree with someone, it’s YOU disagreeing with them, not some other that you can’t get away from. (I mean you in a global sense, btw)”

I tried to think my way around this by saying that politics has taken the place of religion as personal identification for a large segment of American society. People don’t like to see it that way, because they think religion is not based in fact and political points of view are. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say a lot of our politics are taken on faith, especially in the US’s two-party system. We decide to ascribe to a whole bulletin of party issues that aren’t always related.

For instance, if someone identifies as a Christian first, they may be against the death penalty, abortion, and war, but are they a Republican or a Democrat? I think a lot of religious people struggle with the dilemma of reconciling political and religious doctrine. Some Christians consider themselves Republicans based on single issues like abortion or gay marriage. Others consider themselves Democrats based on single issues like…abortion or gay marriage. I was going to put war or social welfare, but I’m not going to pretend that either party has a lock on the Christian vote for any one issue.

Once they decide on a party, they are automatically presumed by people on the ground and pollsters in DC to agree with a host of other party issues. They themselves may even assume that because a party is right on one issue, it’s right on other issues. Some people aren’t assuming. Maybe they’re brilliant human beings that live to a ripe old age of 101 and read day in and day out about political philosophy. Or a dedicated warriors in pursuit of radical changes of their country’s political and social environment, like one of the Jezebel commenters mentioned above.

I still don’t believe that it’s the best idea to categorically ban relationships with people different from ourselves.

Why? Because once we are within an echo chamber, it is far easier to see that the other side, being wrong on one issue, is wrong on every issue. Not only are they wrong on every issue, they want to be wrong. They’re trying to trick us into being wrong too. They’re actually mean, hateful, evil people. They’re not like me. They are the other. I could never like them.

I do not like people who are not like me.

There it is. Again.

This is the perfect example of how intolerance is born of fear and ignorance. We did it in the past with race, religion, gender, and sexuality. Hell, we still do it with race, religion, gender, sexuality, and tons of other stuff. We human beings are really good at hating each other for any and every reason. Usually not a good one.

I’m going to go out from my limb to a twig and say deciding to eschew contact with all people who are not like you does not make your life better.

In fact, it makes everyone’s life worse. Do I have to go back and make citations of historical and present day events for people to see that hate and intolerance are demonstrably bad not only for individuals, but society as a whole?

So what is the answer? I don’t know. I don’t know that there is an answer.

If you don’t want to or can’t be friends with someone, then don’t. It’s better for both of you than building up resentment and misunderstanding.

You don’t have to be best friends with someone who thinks abortion is murder, if you think abortion is a right and integral to women’s empowerment. Maybe it’s not possible. I don’t know.

But I beg you to consider what you are doing if you dismiss out of hand people who are not like you. Here is why:

1) We may already like people we think we hate.
The social atmosphere right now is so poisoned by intolerance, people who see the world differently from the dominant group (whether it’s the dominant group in the country, in the room, or in the circle of friends) are too terrified to speak up. Think of that person who always says something non-committal when politics come up. It may be she has no opinion. It may also be she doesn’t agree with the dominant group and knows or fears that it could lead to isolation and resentment if she were to reveal herself.

I “came out” to a college friend and roommate about my political views after a long time of working on a bond of trust and mutual affection. I shit you not, her first response was “Oh. I thought you were normal like the rest of us.” To her credit, she continues to treat me like a normal person who is capable of being her friend. Because I freaking AM. I’ve also had this go the other way and had former friends attack me viciously and never speak to me again. Usually I’m too afraid. So I just protest I have no interest in politics. Or I say nothing at all and hope it goes unnoticed.

Some people realize the folly of cutting off friends for differences that aren’t as divisive as they once realized. Some people feel betrayed. Instead of letting the knowledge that they like someone they thought they would hate explode their past logic, they revert. So it goes.

2) We don’t hate these people, we hate fear and uncertainty.
By refusing friendship and discourse with someone different, we are missing the chance to challenge our own point of view. Meaning we are limiting our own knowledge and personal growth. We are making ourselves a bad advocate for our own causes. We open ourselves up to all kinds of manipulation by people who may have other ends in mind.

As anyone with a background in social sciences will tell you, “the other” is not reflective of an actual reality. It is a creation in both collective and individual minds used to define ourselves by comparison to another group. When we hate the other we are actually hating our own creation. Our own fear. We are actually hating a small piece of ourselves.

When we refuse to consort with the other, people who are not like ourselves, we refuse to face the fact that everyone doesn’t think like us. Scarier still, if we talk to these people and become their friends, we might start to realize that these beliefs are valid (do not mistake this as true/perfect/universal – just valid). Which leads to uncomfortable thoughts like I might not be right and there are alternatives.

We hate the idea of uncertainty. Of maybe being wrong. Or at least not knowing if we’re right. Not 100%. Not all the way right. It’s a really uncomfortable feeling. Being unsure and trying to justify decisions to ourselves and others based on assumptions that could possibly be wrong.

But guess what? That is a good and important feeling. It is the feeling of stretching, growing, seeking out knowledge.

Who was that moron who said “the unexamined life is not worth living” and thought the wisest man knows he knows nothing? Oh right. Socrates. He’s really old, male, white, and dead, but considering people are still listening to him after something like 2500 years, I think he might be on to something.

I’m starting to think that accepting this uncertainty while still making decisions and taking actions that hopefully lead to a good life is what learning to be a grown up is all about.

Having a friend to help you is invaluable in this task.

3) We are missing the chance at a relationship that could give us comfort and love when we need it most.
If you are thinking, what is this person talking about? I don’t hate them. They hate me!

Congratulations. That is going to solve exactly nothing. You are condemning those you hate to ignorance, meanness, and fear whilst simultaneously giving yourself the same. If we all continue to hate and push away people we believe are not like us, it’s going to be a nasty unpleasant life for everyone forever. Yippee.

It is a cold, hard, lonely world out there. Who are we nattering little nincompoops to be pissing away love and friendship?

*Thank you to my dearest Elbie Toes for listening to me cry and complain about this for two days (or is it 11 years?) straight. We may not agree on much of anything politically, but I love you all the same.

 

The Imaginary Heroine’s Fictional Boyfriends

As promised, here’s a list of my fictional boyfriends.

Harry Potter, the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
I know a bunch of people are going to skeeved out when they read this. Let me just say, I started reading Harry Potter in junior high, when we were about the same age in book time. As the gaps between books widened, I aged faster than Mr. Potter did. All of this is moot though, because Harry’s birthday is July 30, 1980. So, he’s seven years and about a month older than me anyway. So there.

I didn’t really feel romantically attached to Harry until the much-maligned fifth book came out (I was still two months shy of sixteen when it came out in 2003, so I was still in non-creepy territory. Thbt!). A lot of people have complained that they couldn’t stand Harry in book five. He was a whiney pain-in-the-butt, always on about how unfair life was and losing his marbles to the Dark Lord.

Here’s the thing…that was just how I felt too. High school pretty much sucked for me. Like Harry, I spent a lot of time at odds with not only a large number of my closest friends, but also several teachers and my high school. Throw in some metallic maroon combat boots and the inevitable teenage cry of “no one understands meeeee!” and you’ve got the wretched disaster that was sixteen year-old me.

When Harry was shouting down Professor Umbridge in class and forming secret resistance societies, my bolshy (and, yes, whiney, pain-in-the-butt) sixteen year-old self just swooned. When he wasn’t defeating evil, Harry was just trying to get by and do right by people. He also had a mischief streak a mile wide without being an obnoxious “bad boy.” Something that really appealed to this goody-two-shoes. Harry also has great taste in women, as evidenced by his proximity to smart gals like Hermione and Ginny. Add in dark hair and some glasses…I’m sold.

Just like Harry, I ended up dropping out before my senior year and heading off into the world. Sure he went to look for Horcruxes and I went to college, but we can’t all be “the Chosen One.” I will always think of Harry Potter as my partner in crime, my brother in arms, and my only high school boyfriend.

Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, portrayed by David Boreanaz
This one gives me pause now. I used to think Angel was, like, the be all end all of hotness. I definitely blame him for giving me a type: dark eyes, dark hair, straight brow, tan skin, buff shoulders…. Which is basically 7abibi all over, now that I think of it…

Now I realize that it’s pretty creepy for a 240 year-old guy to be sleeping with a seventeen year-old. Even if the 17 year-old in question is a vampire slayer. Plus, all these vampire romances sound good in theory, but the lack of body heat just…ew. Ew. I have a feeling a physical relationship with a vampire would be kind of icky, actually. Who knows what kind of nasty diseases a vampire might have lurking all over their body – they’re basically invincible!

That aside, Angel won my heart and stomped all over it again and again in college. And I loved him for it. It gave me an escape from a crazy class load, 3/4 time job, and roommate angst. Buffy and Angel on DVD definitely helped me survive some grueling semesters.

Yes, he spent some time saving Buffy, but he didn’t mind when Buffy saved him. And she did. Quite a lot, actually. That is what made Angel awesome. He loved a girl who could kick his ass. He even loved her after she killed him, for goodness sake. That is one man who knows the value of a good woman.

I ended up following Angel to his spin-off show and liking him the better for being a bit darker and a bit funnier than he was in BtVS. I have to give the writers and Boreanaz credit, because the Angel/Angelus duality helped me hash out a lot of feelings about good and evil inside myself and finding a moral compass after you realize you aren’t and never will be all good all the time.

Seeley Booth, Bones, portrayed by David Boreanaz
I followed David Boreanez on to his next project, a TV show called Bones. I had never been into a crime drama before, but I was willing to give it chance if it meant I could see his pretty face again. I was prepared to be bored or grossed out, but guess what? Bones kicks all kinds of ass.

Yet again, we see David Boreanaz sharing face time with a kick-ass woman and doing it well. Sometimes he plays the blue-collar, Catholic straight man to her intellectual, atheist jibes. Other times he plays the wise guy and urges her to listen to her heart to find the answers she’s searching for. The show achieves a delicate balance by giving the female lead traits often considered masculine and giving traditionally feminine traits to the male lead. The inversion leads to both humor and illumination as they work together to solve the crime du jour.

I would argue that Boreanaz must be a vampire in real life, because I swear he’s gotten better looking with age. He’s able to carry off both the manly man shell of FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth while staying true to an inner core of intuition, love, and harmony. He’s the thinking woman’s heart-throb.

Ramses Emerson, The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters
I’ve talked about him before on this blog. Walter Peabody Emerson, a.k.a. the Brother of Demons, a.k.a. Ramses is totally hot.

Ramses is the scholar of the bunch, with several degrees and near perfect fluency in myriad languages, dead and alive. Don’t let that fool you though, because he’s also a master of disguise with a wicked sense of humor and enough mischief to match Fred and George Weasley. Plus he “doesn’t fight like a gentleman” whether he’s faced with drunken British Officers or Turkish spies or his dastardly cousin Percy. He’s not afraid of personal injury if he thinks it’s in the service of good, as evidence by his damaging pacifist cover for an extremely active career as a secret agent. He’s also an unabashedly adoring husband and loving dad. Swoon.

Ramses is another guy who is attracted to smart and determined women. How can he not be with a mom like Amelia Peabody? It’s an aphrodisiac, I swear. Show me a man who loves smart women and I’ll show you a milliondy-twelve women of worth willing to love him back.

Honorable Mention:
Mr. Knightly, Emma by Jane Austen
I sort of surprise myself on this one, since my favorite Austen is definitely Sense and Sensibility. But Edward Ferrars just can’t stand up to Mr. Knightly (or really anyone, come to think of it). Mr. Knightly was always trying to boss Emma around, but still loved her and sought her opinion even when she stood up to him or refused to take his advice. Sure his constant nagging could be interpreted as paternalistic and icky, but I choose to read it otherwise. Emma was written as such a stubborn and self-assured character that she needed a powerful counterpart. Someone who was willing to tell her when she was full of crap or being a bitch to Miss Bates. Someone who urged her to be better, because she could and should. That’s why I would say Mr. Knightly has the edge over everyone’s favorite haughty-to-hottie hero, Mr. Darcy.

I find most of Austen’s heros fairly tame. The guys with real spark end up being huge jerks, like Wickham and Willoughby. What is Austen saying here? Is she pulling a Gottleib and telling us to settle for Mr. Dependable-but-dull? Is she telling us that a happy marriage means turning your back on fun, exciting partners? Although Austen gives her heroines a traditional happy ending, the fact that she herself never married and her quotes on the subject of marriage, spinsterhood, and female worth are indicative of a deep skepticism of marriage and men.

Fred/George Weasley, the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
They’re a ton of fun, that’s for sure, and plenty brave. They also seem to be appreciative of powerful women. Fred took the Angelina Johnson to the Yule Ball for cripes sake! Don’t remember her? She was a quidditch chaser who was good enough to make captain and a witch talented enough to try for TriWizard Champion. I hear she married George after the Second Wizarding War! My admiration for the twins is somewhat limited by their secondary (tertiary?) character status. There’s not much to go on here since the Harry Potter series is mostly limited to Harry’s POV. What did they get up to when Harry wasn’t looking? I’m betting they were “up to no good,” of course.

Eric Northman, the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris and True Blood, portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård

This is a fairly recent one for me. I just started reading the Sookie Stackhouse books this year. If I talk about why, I’ll be giving up a crapload of spoilers about the book series and possibly the TV show, so I’ll just zip it. He’s definitely got the high mischief factor going on. I can’t like Eric all the way since he’s definitely a selfish jerk. On the other hand, he’ll tell you so up front. Points for honesty? Being a former viking, he definitely goes against my normal physical type. I’ll stay tuned on this one. The jury is still out.

Who are your fictional boyfriends? Have they changed over time? Want to fight to the death over Angel? I’m dying to know!

 

Rumi and Me March 17, 2010

Filed under: theImaginaryHeroine — imaginaryheroine @ 6:05 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve made a few Rumi references, so I just wanted to explain myself a bit.

I was brought up in a generally religion-free household. My mother’s family is Catholic with a few Evangelicals, while my father’s family ranges from atheist (my dad) or apathetic to Southern Baptist. As a nuclear family we celebrated Christmas and Easter, but never went to church. The first time I read the Bible was in college (I totally skipped over the Kings Lists in the Old Testament…sorry).

7abibi and his family are Reform Jews who have very graciously allowed me to participate in their family traditions and learn about their faith. I’ve added Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Channukah and Passover to my calendar of holidays. I’m currently scouting out a collection of tasty recipes sans chametz, a task somewhat embittered by the fact that Passover happens to coincide with the final rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. However, I would consider myself an interested observer as opposed to a practitioner or convert. I haven’t really begun the serious spiritual and emotional work that I would have to do before I even considered conversion.

I spent quite a bit of time studying Islam as a part of my BA (Linguistics and International Studies, focusing on Arabic and the Middle East). I have been able to meet and make friends with many Muslims of varying backgrounds and traditions. This by no means makes me an expert in Islam, but it does make me an appreciative student of the faith.

Clearly, I’ve had experience with the Abrahamic faiths, but it was always from an outsider’s or student’s perspective. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to move past merely studying religion. What if my parents, in trying to give me a choice, instead robbed me of the ability to carry out said choice, because I can’t ever feel, perform, or belong properly to any religion? Another part of me wonders if this is something even people raised in religious homes struggle with, just with an additional inertia in a particular faith. I am lucky to count among my friends Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Atheists, Agnostics, Wiccans, Baha’i, Hindus, Sunnis, Shi’a,  and even a modern-day Sufi. But I am unlucky in that I feel they all have some kind of idiom, community, connection –something– that I am missing and will never find.

Again, I rely on “the longing is the answer” for comfort.

I must admit that Jalal Ud-Din Mohammad Rumi always touches me in a way that I can’t quite explain and explains me in a way I can’t quite touch:

by Lisa Dietrich from UPenn's CrossxConnect

“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,

Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not Any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East

or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not

composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

I am not an entity in this world or the next,

did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace

of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two

worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that

breath breathing human being.”

– Jalal Ud-Din Muhammad Rumi, p32 The Essential Rumi

trans. Coleman Barks, emphasis my own

 

The 100 Book Challenge

Filed under: Books,theImaginaryHeroine — imaginaryheroine @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Most of the self-helpy philosophies out there include something about setting small, manageable goals in order to achieve tasty little nuggets of success that encourage you to keep going.

I’ve been searching around for some achievable goals, but mostly I keep getting stuck on things like “figure out how to make ends meet*” and “get some kind of quasi-fulfilling career thingy going” and “find out the meaning of life, the universe, and everything” and also “stop being so depressed and/or depressing.”

I’m working on A and B. I’m not so sure C is possible, but I feel like it’s one of those “the longing is the answer” things.

D has always been a difficult one for me. I’m definitely a type-A, glass-half-empty, all-or-nothing kind of girl. Turns out this may mean I have a more realistic view of the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great way to be. Actually it’s kind of downer to have numerous books and news articles tell me that “yup, things are probably about as bad as you imagine they are. Have a nice day!”

In the spirit of getting a little bit of “optimist delusion” going, I decided to find some kind of hobby to keep me occupied. Thus this blog was born. Which kind of bled into my next great idea:

I’m going to try to read 100 books this year.

In my junior high and high school heyday I probably read far more than that. In college I probably read significantly fewer. But, I realized that as of now, I’m a little less than 1/4 of the way through the year and I’m already reading book number 26.

Good gad! Maybe I am capable of completing some tiny goals and getting my own tasty success nuggets! I already feel some delusional optimism tingling somewhere in my toes…

So, in order to keep my juices fired [holy mixed metaphor, Batman!] for the 100 Book Challenge, I’ve included a widget on the right side bar documenting my progress.

What counts towards the 100 Book Challenge?

I’m going to be kind of fluid on this issue of what constitutes a book, since I’ve recently started being interested in things like 1000 page fan fiction masterpieces and academic papers as long as normal books.

However, I can’t count any book more than once. For instance, I read A New Dawn straight through in an afternoon, but I had to go back to each essay and reread one or two more times for analysis purposes. The whole project counts as one book.

That, my friends, is my mission.

Wish me luck!

*When I was little I thought this phrase was “make ends meat” and was some kind of recipe. “Ends meat,” I speculated, was  something akin to meat loaf, which I abominate to this day. I even hate its more aristocratic cousin, Pâté. Oddly fitting, since no one I know likes having to make ends meet either…

 

Edward Cullen, the 108 Year Old Virgin March 16, 2010

If I am truly honest with myself, I must admit that I like Twi-snark even better than Twilight itself. The best snark comes from Twilighters, Twitards – Whatever you want to call those of us who know and love the series best. Some of it is pretty crude. In the words of Buffy, “we’re talking violence, strong language, adult content.” But really, I just can’t help myself. I love me some TwitardedTwiSoupTwilight Stonified, and Lady Bits Wolf Tattoos.

Even RPatz gets in some Twi-snark:

“When you read the book,” says Pattinson, … “it’s like, ‘Edward Cullen was so beautiful I creamed myself.’ I mean, every line is liked that. He’s the most ridiculous person who’s so amazing at everything. I think a lot of actors tried to play that aspect. I just couldn’t do that. And the more I read the script, the more I hated this guy, so that’s how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself. Plus, he’s a 108 year-old virgin so he’s obviously got some issues there.” – Robert Pattinson, Empire Magazine 10/2008

So how could I be so late to the “Growing Up Cullen” party? Where has this tasty Twi-snark been all my Twilife?!!!!1!eleventy!!1

Ever wonder what Edward was up to all those years before he met Bella?

At one point Edward tells Bella that he is super musical and educated, because he had so much free time on his hands.

I, for one, snorked at that particular passage. You mean his whole family was having hawt vampire sex and he was…doing Latin flashcards? Uh…huh.

saint_renegade and oxymoronassoc, two livejournal users, have taken this skepticism and pushed it to a new level. To borrow a phrase from Faith, the dark slayer, something in Edward’s bottle definitely needed uncorking.

Behold Edward Cullen, the 108 year old Virgin:

oxymoronassoc: rosalie would totally be extra loud to annoy edward too
oxymoronassoc: esp if he was doing something delicate like building a boat in a bottle
saint_renegade: YOU KNOW HE HAS
oxymoronassoc: FUCK YOU ROSALIE THIS WAS THE FIFTH TIME
oxymoronassoc: and then he’d sulk around the house
oxymoronassoc: muttering darkly about his boat

and also

oxymoronassoc: and esme would be like WHY DON’T YOU GO TRY OUT THAT NEW POTTERY WHEEL I BOUGHT?
saint_renegade: and that’s how they have like 80 bowls they’ll never use
oxymoronassoc: all lumpy and badly glazed
saint_renegade: I’M PERFECTING MY ART!!!!!
saint_renegade: WHAT ARE YOU DOING BESIDES BEING FILTHY?
oxymoronassoc: emmett will use them one day when he and jasper are pretending aliens are invading in the backyard and karate chop them to bits
oxymoronassoc: and edward will flip his shit
oxymoronassoc: NO RESPECT
oxymoronassoc: NO RESPECT!!!!
oxymoronassoc: THAT WAS ART!
oxymoronassoc: ART!!!

It just gets better and better… or worse and worse, depending upon how you look at it.

I found it on my lunch break and almost peed my pants. At WORK.

EDIT:

OME, there’s more!

Here!!1

Here!!!!!!111!!

Here!!!!!!!!!1!1!!!

and Here!!!!!!!111111!!!!1

 

Full Frontal Florets February 10, 2010

Filed under: Food and Cooking,theImaginaryHeroine — imaginaryheroine @ 9:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

me: argh
me: I don’t want to do dishes 😦

AuntieE: I’m sooo tired

me: I’m just lazy ; 9
me: and I have a new cooks illustrated

AuntieE: LOL
AuntieE: ah, chef porn

me: there’s a very sexy broccoli on the cover
me:  full frontal florets